A poem to think about
I first read this poem many years ago–it was a page in my Chicken Soup desk calendar. It really made an impression on me and I’ve saved it. Before my daughter was born, I typed it up in fancy font and printed it out on design paper and framed it. I still have the framed print, currently in my craft room. I thought I would share it with all of you, and I hope you take some time to ponder it either as a new mother hoping to do all these things, or as a current mother who might be feeling guilty. We have to let some of the guilt go! Before we have children we have so many ideals and things that we’re never/always going to do. But the reality of day to day life often gets in the way. This poem, though, always reminds me of my ideals.
If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again
by Diane Loomans
If I had my child to raise over again,
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d finger paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting, and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.
I’d see the oak tree in the acorn more often.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
I’d model less about the love of power,
And more about the power of love.
This next “poem” is from an email that went out several years ago:
Someday when my children are old enough tounderstand the logic that motivates a parent, Iwill tell them, as my Mean Mom told me:
I loved you enough . . . to ask where you weregoing, with whom, and what time you would be home.
I loved you enough… to be silent and let you discover that your new best friend was a creep.
I loved you enough… to make you go pay for the bubble gum you had taken and tell the clerk,” I stole this yesterday and want to pay for it.”
I loved you enough… to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your room,a job that should have taken 15 minutes.
I loved you enough… to let you see anger,disappointment, and tears in my eyes. Children must learn that their parents aren’t perfect.
I loved you enough… to let you assume the responsibility for your actions even when thepenalties were so harsh they almost broke my heart.
But most of all, I loved you enough . . to say NO when I knew you would hate me for it.Those were the most difficult battles of all. I’m glad I won them, because in the end you won, too. And someday when your children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates parents, you will tell them.
(from the same email message, not my writing)
“Was your Mom mean? I know mine was. We had the meanest mother in the whole world! While other kids ate candy for breakfast, we had to have cereal, eggs, and toast. When others had a Pepsi and a Twinkie for lunch,we had to eat sandwiches. And you can guess our mother fixed us a dinner that was different from what other kids had, too. Mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were convicts in a prison. She had to know who our friends were,and what we were doing with them. She insisted that if we said we would be gone for an hour,we would be gone for an hour or less. We were ashamed to admit it, but she had thenerve to break the Child Labor Laws by making us work. We had to wash the dishes,make the beds, learn to cook,vacuum the floor, do laundry, empty the trashand all sorts of cruel jobs. I think she would lie awake at nightthinking of more things for us to do. She always insisted on us telling the truth,the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. By the time we were teenagers,she could read our minds and had eyes in theback of her head. Then, life was really tough! Mother wouldn’t let our friends just honk thehorn when they drove up. They had to come up to the door so she could meet them. While everyone else could date when they were 12 or 13,we had to wait until we were 16. Because of our mother we missed out on lots of things other kids experienced. None of us have ever been caught shoplifting, vandalizing other’s property or ever arrested for anything! It was all her fault. Now that we have left home, we are all educated, honest adults. We are doing our best to be mean parents just like Mom was. I think that is what’s wrong with the world today. It just doesn’t have enough mean moms!”
Isn’t it so amazing and ironic that you can’t understand these things until you become a parent yourself? As a kid you do see all these things as your parent being “mean.” I know because I myself had a “mean” Mom (and Dad). Even when I was an adult, and thought I was so mature and wise, I did not fully understand these concepts. It took me becoming a mother myself to completely comprehend. And it fills me with a bit of sadness to know that at some point, my children are going to hate me for _____ (I’m sure many things could go in the blank). It also makes me sad because I wish we could realize how much our parents love us when we are kids, so we could appreciate it and be closer to them.